Talladega Fallout

The frightening crash at Talladega will light up the message boards with cries to get rid of the restrictor plate. Seven spectators were injured when Carl Edwards’ car impacted heavily, roof first, into the catch fencing. Today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega saw over one-half of the field involved in multi-car crashes.

One may ask, is blocking the reason for most of the crashes? Today’s surprising win by rookie Brad Keselowski was predicated with leader Carl Edwards drifting down to block the youngster. No one should fault Keselowski, who some may consider wrecked Edwards. Keselowski was quoted after the race, “Well I kind of felt bad because I was watching Carl (Edwards) in my mirror wreck hard and I hope he’s okay. I feel bad about that but man that’s the rule. He knows the rule as well as anyone else and he put himself in that spot. I don’t want to wreck a guy, but he put himself there. I hope he’s okay and I’m sorry for that.” They’ve addressed blocking in the IndyCar Series and several other series, NASCAR can do the same.

Carl Edwards came straight to the point during his post-race interview, “I guess we’ll do this until someone gets killed and then we’ll change it,” he said. Edwards seemed quite mortal when he added, ” so I turned around backwards. At this point I’m thinking, ‘Boy, I wish this was made out of liquid gel material,’ and then I’m very fortunate we hit the wall in a way it didn’t crush my roll cage down on my neck because that would have been a lot worse. NASCAR just puts us in this box. Brad did a great job. Congrats to him on the win, but they put us in this box and we’ll race like this until we kill somebody and then they’ll change it, but I’m just glad nobody got hurt today. I’m glad the car didn’t go up in the grandstands and hurt somebody.”

One had to marvel at the incredible advantage the two-car drafts had today. Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. drafted to the front late in the race and the telemetry showed they were seven-plus M.P.H. faster. Newman and Earnhardt came from 14th to the front in two laps. Edwards and Keselowski used the same technique to the take the lead over the Newman-Junior duo. Apparently it’s not totally new at Talladega, Earnhardt remarked, “We saw it last year and the year before that. It is a great way to break away. It is what won the race right there. We were up front and had a shot to win. I thought we had them man and here comes Brad pushing the No. 99, I could not believe it. Good job by both those guys. Too bad it happened on the front straightaway. That was a little rough looking. But I was glad to get through it.”

Congratulations to James Finch owner of the No. 09 Chevy, many may not remember that Finch owned the car the Neil Bonnett was killed in at Daytona in 1994, as a part-time car owner, his equipment is usually very good. Today however he was using a car from Hendrick Motorsports. Finch has had some nice runs with Geoff Bodine and Mike Wallace but this one was one to remember. Keselowski’s win harkens back to many memorable first-time winners such as, Richard Brickhouse, Dick Brooks, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Bobby Hillin, Jr.

I’ve heard many complaints regarding the FOX broadcasts this year. Many call it the “bought and sold” crew, meaning they’re more interested in backing the company line from Daytona than explaining to the audience what is happening. I understand somewhat that commentators have to be ‘homers.’ However, Mike Joy, whom I’ve met several times and consider myself a fan of totally floored me with this statement while watching a slow-motion replay of the Edwards accident. Joy: “You know looking very carefully at the catch fencing-that held and I did not see debris go into the grandstand and that certainly is very gratifying to see.” On the replay you can clearly see debris being sprayed into the grandstands. This is potentially more damaging to ratings then stupid cartoons, incredibly in-your-face sponsor drops, graphics and lead-ins. After the race I had several e-mails from fans dumbfounded at Joy’s remarks. It is truly a low point in NASCAR’s coverage when commentators seemingly lie to their audience. How can sport take its self seriously? We’ve seen promoters fib about attendance, drivers lie about moving to different teams, but don’t tell someone they didn’t see what they did see. That’ll speed up NASCAR’s ratings decline more than excessive commercials and ten-minute caution periods.

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